December 31, 2021

"Auld Helle Sytes"

This one goes out to those personas whose memories linger on, and who we continue to cherish, even if they're no longer "on here," wherever "here" may be these days.

Roissy, Udolpho, Alias Clio, and the GNXP crew from the blogosphere. The original cozy groypers from Twitter (including a very special fren, who miraculously came back from the Isle of the Banned). Not to mention the anti-woke left babes from Twitter -- Heather Habsburg, Caroline, and the most sorely missed of all, by all, Alison Balsam. (I should have titled the song "Alf Lang Syne" to better catch her attention...)

Don't be strangers forever. I don't mean toward me specifically, I mean toward your entire peeps in the online space in general.

Here's to the good ol' days, as we enter the New Year.

* * *

Should old account-frens stay logged off
And lurk like ghosts online
Should old account-frens stay logged off
From auld helle sytes

For auld helle sytes, anon
For auld helle sytes
A popping cork we'll type in chat
For auld helle sytes

December 28, 2021

When toys were their own world, not mass-media merch tie-ins

Looking back on the kinds of presents we Gen X-ers used to get for Christmas, birthdays, or just as a special treat for no greater reason, I'm struck by how uncoupled they were from the mass media / entertainment ecosystem.

To reiterate, there was a massive change with the Millennial generation, or rather with their helicopter parents, who locked them inside all day long during their developmental years, rationalizing it as keeping them safe from bad influences (AKA their neighbors and their neighborhood). Since kids need some kind of external stimulation and interaction, the helicopter parents decided to saturate their kids with mass media and entertainment products, which replaced connections to the outside physical and social world.

As a result, all Millennial experiences have been mediated through these devices and informational products, right up through the present and their online-connected devices that deliver (para)social media and streaming entertainment content. They only remember physical items from their childhood if they were closely connected in their memory to a mass-media product -- a TV show, movie, video game, omnipresent ad campaign, etc. See this recent post.

That includes physical items like toys -- Millennials only connected with toy lines that were heavily co-branded with a big-hit TV show, movie, video game, etc. For example, the X-Men figures that tied in with the popular X-Men cartoon of the early '90s, Power Rangers, Tickle-Me Elmo, Sonic the Hedgehog merch in various forms, and so on and so forth. There was only one notable exception -- Furby (unless Millennial kids played with Beanie Babies, which I think were mostly for Boomer collectors). I consider the Tamagotchi as a stand-alone video game, rather than a physical toy.

Certainly the '80s had no shortage of toy lines that were tie-ins to popular cartoons and movies -- Star Wars, He-Man, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, (the Real) Ghostbusters, and various others. Our memories of those toys are closely connected to our memories of the cartoons and movies.

However, those barely scratch the surface of toy-world and kid-life in the '80s, which was awash in all sorts of toy lines -- many of which were not derived from an existing, popular entertainment franchise.

In the appendix to this post, I've shown examples of quite a few that I remember off the top of my head, and stopped after awhile because there are simply too many to show pictures of: Starriors, Bone Age, Sectaurs, Supernaturals, Rock Lords, Crystar, Inhumanoids, Boglins, M.U.S.C.L.E., Madballs, and Computer Warriors. To list a few others that are not in the image appendix: Power Lords, Food Fighters, Barnyard Commandos, Mad Scientist (including "dissect an alien"), My Pet Monster... I really could go all day long!

Oh sure, the creators of the toys may have produced a limited-run cartoon that aired for two weeks, never went into re-runs or syndication, and was not seen or remembered by the kids because the cartoon was poorly made or boring or whatever. They may have even put a handful of commercials into rotation on TV. Maybe they made a 4-issue comic book series that no kid actually read (not the least because the comic book format was rapidly fading from importance for small kids during the '80s). And in several cases, there was no pre-existing or concurrent mass media tie-in at all -- just the toy line unto itself.

By and large, though, these toy lines were only known from actual visits by the kids to actual toy-stores and looking over the actual physical items for sale. All of the advertising and branding went into the package design. If the toy "did something," this was visually demonstrated in pictures on the packaging, perhaps with a caption to explain it. Since you hadn't seen such things on cartoons, movies, video games, or even commercials, you had to figure out from the packaging and the toy itself inside, whether it was worth buying or not.

That was the heyday for buying toys IRL, from the huge toy-store chains like Toys R Us and Children's Palace, to the smaller-scale chains like K-B Toys, to mid-market department stores like K-Mart and Woolworth's, all the way down to general closeout stores like Odd Lots (since rebranded as Big Lots).

If you wanted to know what was new in the toy market, you didn't bother watching hours of TV just to see a handful of toy commercials, nor did you watch hours of cartoons to see if their toys might be worth playing with. You simply had your parents drive you to Toys R Us, browse the selection, and compare the many many many wares on display. In other words, the purpose of a toy-store visit was not only to pick up an item that you already knew you wanted, but to learn about what all was available by browsing IRL (rather than learning this info through the mass media).

What difference did it make if you didn't recognize the toys on display from a cartoon, movie, commercial, etc.? Either it looked cool and fun, or it didn't. We judged them on their own toy-like merits, not their brand synergy with existing intellectual property franchises. Even without a hyped-up cartoon to relate it to, the toy had some special appeal that was apparent right there in the toy-store -- the translucent and geometric forms of the Crystar figures, Bone Age's dinosaur skeletons that could be reassembled into vehicles or buildings (borrowing from Lego blocks and Transformers), the horror hologram stickers on the Supernaturals, the gross-out feel of their skin and the try-it-in-the-package puppeteering of the Boglins, and so on and so forth.

No cartoons or commercials required! -- they could not hope to convey, palpably and immediately, what the items for sale in the store could so easily.

It wasn't even as though we balked at the toy lines that we didn't associate with a media property, but were more willing than Millennials to give such things a chance, to take a risk. We simply did not treat toys as derivative products from a primary media property like a cartoon. The toys themselves were primary and fundamental -- some of them happened to have counterparts in cartoon-world, and some of them happened not to, and we didn't think a second thought about those differences. Were they fun to play with, or not?

For the heavily mediatized experiences of Millennials, though, such toy lines were not really real. They were not the physical incarnation of characters from a favorite cartoon / movie / video game. So in a way, those toy-makers were just making shit up, lying and deceiving the kids. "That's not a real hero, he's not on TV or in a Nintendo game at all!" They would've felt like such toys were counterfeits, knockoffs, dimestore versions of the real deal (mass media merch).

This is not the difference between old-timey toys that were artisanally made and unbranded. The Gen-X toys were mass-produced by industrial factories, and were very heavily branded -- it's just that this branding often had nothing to do with mass media franchises, and the advertising was only the physical packaging, not a mass-mediated ad campaign. This is the only crucial difference -- do physical things belong to their own world, or do they only exist if they're extensions of a mass-media franchise?

And given how socially outgoing the '80s were, compared to the cocooning era of the '90s and after, kids didn't only have toy stores to find toys at. We checked out garage sales, second-hand stores, and the toy-boxes of our friends and same-age relatives. At that point, not even the packaging was there -- it was just you and the toy, and it resonated with you or it did not. I got quite a few of my favorite toys that way, and I never knew the name of the line they came from (let alone the specific individuals in my possession) until I investigated out of curiosity in adulthood. That could never appeal to the average Millennial, for whom these strange toys could not plug into an existing mediatized experience.

This also underscores the far more active imaginations that Gen X had (and still has), compared to Millennials. We didn't have to know the figure's name, what line they were from, what the intended narrative was around them, their character traits, relations to others, etc., as told in a cartoon, movie, or whatever. We would just make up the story-lines ourselves! It's not that hard.

Good guy and other good guy are friends, bad guy hurts one of the good guys, and the other good guy avenges him against the bad guy. Or one good guy betrays the other good guy, joins the bad guy, and now the remaining good guy has to take on two bad guys instead of one -- but he's so angry over the betrayal, it gives him a new motivation and determination to see it through.

Who could possibly care what their "real" names are, what their "real" roles are, and what the "real" plot-lines are? Who died and made some cartoon writer king? They're our toys, we'll make them do whatever we feel like. Lighten up, it's just action figures -- it's not committing sacrilege, as though we were making a Jesus toy betray the other disciple toys, instead of the Judas toy playing that role.

* * *

This example shows how different these toys as fundamental things-in-their-own-world are from "merch" of a mass media franchise. For merch, the form and function is basically the same as the version that is not branded with the relevant franchise -- either branded with some other franchise, or not at all. A t-shirt with a Sonic the Hedgehog picture on it is the same as a t-shirt with a Pokemon picture on it, or no picture at all. It's a t-shirt, and the branding is applied at the most superficial level, not changing the form or function of the item.

This was parodied in Spaceballs during the "moichendizing, moichendizing..." scene. It's not like "Spaceballs: the flamethrower" is different from the same flamethrower without the Spaceballs branding on it. But if you're a diehard member of the Spaceballs fandom, maybe you'll buy any old thing, as long as it has the Spaceballs branding on it.

The trend toward toys as an existing pop culture tie-in, and simply re-skinning the same underlying form, while also not changing its function, has reached its peak in the Funko pop phenomenon. The vinyl figures all look highly similar in their proportions (notably the big head), their material, and their function (to sit on a shelf as display items). Only the most superficial re-skinning work distinguishes the Harry Potter figure from the Shakira figure.

Not only are the figures highly interchangeable within the line, by this point the Funko pops are *the* sole popular toy line. "Should we make a toy for some media property?" has instead become "When do we make the Funko pop for that property?"

Back in the '80s, each toy line was different from the other -- He-Man figures were not built like Star Wars figures, whether in size, color, articulation, material, etc. "Toy" did not merely reduce to "He-Man or He-Man clone," one toy-form to rule them all, as today's toy-world reduces to Funko pops or clones.

But more than that, the various figures within a single toy line were all distinctive. Sure, they shared enough in common to be recognizable as belonging to the same line. But they had to be different enough to warrant buying all the figures -- if they were too similar, and only re-skinned, well, what does one add that the others do not? So just within the He-Man line, one was covered in a moss-like material, another had a stinky odor within the plastic it was made from, one had a heavy rubbery tail, while another had large translucent bee wings, one could spin his torso around indefinitely in a cyclone, while another was a reptile that could spit water from his mouth, and so on and so forth. No two were alike.

If the toy is a physical thing first and foremost, and interacts with other toys, in its own toy-world, then its particular physical form, material, actions, etc., all matter very much. It's why you buy that toy over another toy.

But if the toy is merely the physical incarnation of a character from a mass-media franchise, which has no physicality itself, then who cares what form it takes when incarnated? As long as it's a physical presence, whether to hold in your hand or display on your shelf, that's enough. It's just a space-taker-upper that reminds you of that character you saw in a cartoon, movie, video game, or whatever. It doesn't need to be made from a certain material, to have certain kinds of articulation, to perform certain special motions or actions, to come with its own accessories / weapons / etc., or to be paired with certain vehicles or playsets that recreate the specific environment of that cartoon, movie, or whatever.

In fact, it's not something you actually play with, by itself or interacting with other toys. It really is the purest form of the devolution of toys into merch, where the underlying forms are interchangeable and fungible and homogeneous, with only superficial branding applied to distinguish the different entries in the list. At Hot Topic, the wall o' Funko pops is no different from the wall o' band t-shirts -- all the same fundamental physical thing, just with different branding on the surface.

RIP toys, and physical stuff in general, victims of helicopter parenting and the exclusively mass-mediated experiences of the Millennial and Zoomer generations. I have a 13 year-old Gen Alpha nephew, and I don't see the tide turning with his generation either -- or rather, the generation that is parenting them (very late X-ers and early Millennials).

But like I always say, things move in cycles, however long the period may be. This isn't the first time that helicopter parenting has been the norm, cocooning the norm, and toys only as extensions of mass-media franchises.

Remember in A Christmas Story (set in the cocooning period of circa 1940, when helicopter parenting was also in vogue), the main toy in his life is a decoder ring? It's branded with, and relies on consuming, a popular mass-media franchise -- the radio program Little Orphan Annie. And what secret message does it send to its owners? Another form of mass-media content -- a commercial! "Remember to drink your Ovaltine". The other toy he's pining for -- a Red Ryder BB gun -- is also branded after a cowboy character from a popular Western-themed comic strip. That's a heavily mass-mediated experience of toys.

As Midcentury cocooning began going away during the '60s, and vanishing by the '80s, we didn't need to brand our most in-demand toy guns after popular media franchises. It spoke for itself, in pure toy-world terms -- "Lazer Tag".

* * *


December 25, 2021

"Somewhere in My Fren-feed" (Home Alone / groyper Christmas tribute)

To help keep the cozy spirit alive on Christmas, whether you're together with your loving family or living out a latter-day latchkey kid holiday as in Home Alone, here's a song to the tune of "Somewhere in My Memory" from that movie's soundtrack by John Williams (original lyrics here). Now adapted to the mostly-online existence of people these days, with a special tip of the hat to the original groypers (and to a special fren who was made an honorary groyper by them, hehe).

Like all people with normal good taste, I dislike most of those Midcentury Christmas song standards, and find them grating after weeks of constant playing in public. People in cocooning times just cannot stand a Christmas spirit that has any hint of solemn or sacred to it, which is why they leave out those from the same Midcentury period that depart from the campy, self-aware, low-energy, or schmaltzy, such as "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

As the socially outgoing / rising-crime phase of the cycle reached its peak during the '80s, though, they perfected the art of holiday-themed songs that were not religious, but still sounded solemn and sacred, resonating with a broad audience. The two greatest examples of that development both came from John Hughes movies. For Thanksgiving: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles ("Modigliani (Requiem Mass)" by Book of Love). And for Christmas: Home Alone ("Somewhere in My Memory").

Even the non-religious aspects of the holiday feel special, almost other-worldly, no matter if they're as down-to-earth and regular as the seasons changing. To imbue the lyrics with that elevated feeling, I've set them to the tune of the Home Alone song.

Pronunciation guide: two whole beats for "memes" and "dream" in the first verse. Stress shifts to the final syllable in "winning" at the end.

* * *

Santas in the videos
Cat snow angels in memes
Lazing 'round in nightclothes
Dreaming that New Year's chat dream

Cyber snowmen, blankie peepos
Avis changing winterly

Somewhere in my fren-feed
Crimmus groypers abounding
Living in my fren-feed
All the AGOO-ing, all gonna make it
All of the fandom, on here, winning

December 21, 2021

"Lifeline to the drowning" anthems by manic-phase births, to save others from hitting rock-bottom during vulnerable phase of excitement cycle

Back to the topic of the role of would-be Manic Pixie Dream Girls during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, when their nursing-back-to-health services are not wanted while everybody is wallowing in a touch-me-not refractory state.

A recent post looked at a frustrated would-be MPDG, in Michelle Branch's song "All You Wanted" from the early 2000s vulnerable phase. It made me think that the manic-phase births like her perform some variation on the nursing-back-to-health theme during the vulnerable phase -- just not that of coaxing wary people out of their shells, as their signature role during the restless warm-up phase that follows.

That is, the resilient attitude that they acquired from imprinting on the zeitgeist of invincibility during their birth, in a manic phase, might be a lifelong trait that expresses itself in different ways, depending on what phase of the cycle they're in.

Another post has already shown how they lead a quasi-rebellion of carefree self-actualization during the manic phase -- not as mindless self-indulgence, but as a deserved vacation after tending to others' needs during the preceding restless phase, when they did their heavy lifting role as the MPDG proper.

Now I think I've finally figured out their role in the vulnerable phase. Everyone is too touch-me-not to accept her role as coaxing them out of their shells, encouraging them to achieve the most they can, and serve as a practice girlfriend in order for them to find true love by the end of their fleeting relationship. And it's just past the phase where everyone felt invincible, comfortable taking risks, interacting with others, and so on.

What is left to do, but send the message that this down-in-the-dumps doldrums, this social-emotional hangover, is not going to last forever -- and therefore, they should just try to ride it out, to believe that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Although you feel like you're drowning, do not let yourself sink to the bottom, because before too long, you'll be swimming back to shore. Just tread water for now.

To be dramatic, apropos of the emo vibe during the vulnerable phase, I'll call this role "throwing a lifeline to the drowning". It's not the same as commiseration, which does not presume an end to the suffering, and could easily be two co-dependent depressives remaining down-and-out together indefinitely. There has to be a silver lining / light at the end of the tunnel message. A reminder from someone who is seemingly not affected (or affected far less) by the refractory state.

It's as though they can breathe underwater and pass on some of their oxygen by mouth-to-mouth to the typical person who is barely treading water and whose lungs are starting to fill up with liquid. But it cannot rise to the level of an empowerment anthem, which assumes that they're in a normal healthy state, and just need a shove to accomplish great things. In this phase, she's just trying to keep them from drowning. The tone is only uplifting in the sense of helping them not hit rock-bottom -- not lifting them up to soar away on their own.

The person they're helping is not actually profoundly traumatized, they're just feeling a heightened level of anxiety, insecurity, and depression. These feelings stem from uncertainty -- what seems like unresolvable uncertainty -- and that in turn stems from social isolation. If they were socially and emotionally interacting with others, they would have a resolution to their uncertainty -- other people value them, like and love them, need them, and so on. But when they retreat into a refractory-state cocoon, this feedback from others vanishes, and they are left in a state of crippling uncertainty. So the would-be MPDG swoops in to deliver a clear, definitive message that they're worthy, and not to give up hope, as their anxiety etc. will eventually get better.

Related posts here, here, and here. Reminder that the physical profile is to establish that the MPDG is a corporeal rather than cerebral type, and that butt people are corporeal while boob people are cerebral. She is an earthly guardian angel, not a purely disembodied one.

* * *

"Que Sera, Sera" by Doris Day (1956)

The least emo of the anthems, since it was the 1950s and people were about as far from drowning as could be. There was New Deal collectivism rather than neoliberal atomization, and the 50-year political violence cycle was at a nadir (between peaks circa 1920 and 1970). Still, the cocooning-and-crime cycle was in a falling-crime / cocooning phase ("Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" alienation), and the second half of the '50s were a vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle.

To assuage the anxieties and insecurities of her Fifties audience, Doris Day delivers a message, not of fatalism, but rather not stewing in one's own doubts and depression, and that everything will work out well in the end.

As with all MPDGs, she was born during a manic phase (early '20s), and was an hourglass-shaped butt woman rather than boob woman.

"Lean on Me" by Bill Withers (1972)

Also during the New Deal era, though right at the peak of political violence and civil breakdown. Instead of inflaming those tensions further, Bill Withers (born during the manic phase of the late '30s) promoted solidarity and fellow-feeling, while also playing a role in the vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle to keep people from hitting rock-bottom. There's a light at the end of the tunnel because we're all here to help each other out with whatever problems we may encounter.

A close runner-up from the same phase is "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel (1970), both of whom are sad-boys born in the early '40s, not manic-phase births. There's something slightly off about this one compared to the others, though, in that it's not encouraging an inner-confidence in the listener, as a kind of pep talk. Its message of reassurance is that the singer will shield and protect the listener, who either will not have to give back in the same way, or does not need to find or cultivate that inner-confidence that the other songs encourage, like a motivational speech. So, perhaps sad-boys and sad-girls are good at commiserating, but not motivating others to find an inner strength that they might not be sure they actually have.

"I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five (1970) is another example from this phase, although more in the context of a bf / gf than a generalized motivational speaker, therapist, or nurse. Still, worth including. Three of the five are manic-phase births (early '50s), while two are sad-boys (late '50s). The two lead vocals are split evenly between a manic (Jermaine) and a vulnerable-phase birth (Michael).

"True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper (1986)

Now that we're getting solidly into the neoliberal era, and its collapse in collectivism, these anthems are going to get a lot more emo, as the audience finds itself in a far more precarious situation, no matter what phase of the excitement cycle they're in. That inclines them toward a hysterical response, compared to the more unflappable entries in the genre from the New Deal era.

Just a few years earlier, Cyndi Lauper had delivered the prime example of MPDG behavior during the manic phase -- the carefree self-actualizing anthem "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (1983). But what a difference a few years make, when it crosses the phase boundary into the hangover of the second half of the '80s. And yet she couldn't keep her fundamentally resilient free-spirited nature from expressing itself, she only had to modulate it to cater to the new needs of an audience that was slumped over in a refractory state, and needed motivation not to let themselves go under for good.

She was born during a manic phase (early '50s), and was formed like the rest (hourglass butt woman).

It's really too bad she didn't have any big hits during the late '70s or the early '90s, which were restless warm-up phases that would have allowed her to play the role of an MPDG proper. Still, it's illuminating to see her perform iconic entries in different variations on the underlying MPDG theme. As far as I can tell, the only MPDG to shine through all three phases of the cycle is Avril Lavigne (more on her in another post).

"Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel from the same year is a close second for this phase. And like Cyndi Lauper, he's an early '50s birth. The featured singer in the chorus is Kate Bush, a sad-girl born in the late '50s, and I think it's her tone of commiseration, rather than leading and motivation, that makes this one sound halfway like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from the sad-boy duo extraordinaire. Maybe it would have equaled "True Colors" as an anthem in this genre, if the featured chorus singer had been a more resilient manic-phase birth with a strong inner-confidence, for example Annie Lennox (early '50s birth). Kate Bush as the singer doesn't detract from its aesthetic merit, just saying that its inspirational role is not quite as powerful as "True Colors" for this reason.

"Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera (2002)

The trend of neoliberal atomization to produce hysterical and flailing responses to adversity is even more evident, and the MPDG's task all the more demanding to steady the audience's nerves and reassure them of their worthiness. This one relied the most on her branding outside of the song itself, to establish the "not like other girls" persona -- crucially the video, where she has multi-colored hair, facial piercings, and edgy clothing, unlike bubblegummy blonde peers like Jessica Simpson. Not to mention all the outcast groups showcased in the video. And this was just after the success of "Genie in a Bottle," whose title helped to establish her image as a social-emotional deus ex machina for a sad sack who needs some major help.

Christina Aguilera is a manic-phase birth (early '80s), and an hourglass butt woman, like the others.

"I Believe in You" by Kylie Minogue (2004) is a fairly distant second for this phase, but there's something about this genre that's unmistakably there. It's in a bf / gf context, like a disco-danceable take on "I'll Be There". And yet the ethereal vocals and synths keep this from sounding like any old bf / gf song, and lend a more universal sky-level point-of-view to the singer, as though she were a goddess or guardian angel. Of course, like the others she's an hourglass butt woman born during a manic phase (late '60s).

"Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara (2016)

Not only has neoliberal atomization reached new lows by this point, but wokeness and civil breakdown have begun to accelerate toward a new peak (which would be reached circa 2020, rivaling the last peak circa 1970). That's why I've featured the official music video, with its insane levels of wokeness that interrupt the lyrics themselves -- as a reminder of how fucking emo the late 2010s vulnerable phase was. Easily the most hysterical micro-era since World War I / the late 1910s.

As a consequence of wokeness, this song explicitly only caters to half the population (girls), unlike its not-too-older relative "Beautiful," whose video made sure to include a scrawny straight white guy whose body dysmorphia was channeled into weightlifting and obsessive mirror-gazing. But then the Aguilera song was from a near nadir in the civil breakdown cycle.

Like the others, Alessia Cara is a manic-phase birth (late '90s), and an hourglass butt girl, unusually for someone of Eastern Med background (Calabria), who tend to be skinny boob women.

There are no second places or honorable mentions from the genre during this phase, due to the breakdown of not only civil relations -- which had also happened circa 1970 -- but of the American empire and its culture as a whole. American culture finally bit the dust in 2021. (An upcoming post will elaborate, but I have been cataloging this all year by looking at how "contemporary hit" radio stations have stopped playing songs from the current year, and are frozen in 2020 at the latest, but generally the 2010s and earlier.)

But even by the late 2010s, we had already felt a strong impression that the culture-makers were finished with making American culture, had minimal interest in appealing to a broad universal audience, and were going to simply go on an originality strike, and cope by serving an increasingly narrow provincial audience of libtard strivers.

Still, credit where it's due -- the Alessia Cara song is the final entry in this genre, as opposed to the total absence of entries that will characterize the indefinite future void of Anglosphere culture.

December 17, 2021

"Thank You For Being a Fren" (theme song to The Golden Groyps)

Another tribute to the cozy original groypers (not the spergy poser closet cases). Still seems appropriate for Christmastime, as an extension of Thanksgiving and the whole bundled-up by the fireplace with a cat napping on your lap season.

Not a direct participant in their scene, but impossible not to value even from observer status.

It's possible one of them has made this play on the theme song to the Golden Girls, but most of their accounts are suspended on Twitter, so it's hard to check and see. If they haven't, it would go great with their animated memes, since they resonate with that soft side of the '80s (the late '80s Weather Channel / New Age vibe).

Pronunciation guide: stress / extra length on "to" in the 5th line.

* * *

Thank you for being a fren
Held my hand when I got banned again
Your art's a hoot
You're a calmposting boss anon

You hollered to the froggies
Invited us for tea & tunes
In your feed, a cozy Christmas vid from me
And its soundtrack softly plays
"Thank You For Being a Fren"

December 16, 2021

Millennial childhood memories didn't record their own home, only what was on screens

Every year a post on Corningware or Corelle from the '50s - '70s does numbers on Twitter. Here is the latest one (h/t to Jack from TPN).

Those manufacturers kept making new patterns into the '80s and '90s, but I've never seen Millennials reminisce about them, the way Gen X-ers and Boomers do about the stuff they grew up with. (And have pieced back together in adulthood -- for me, that Corningware "spice of life" pattern shown in the tweet above [yep, I have that exact teapot], "butterfly gold" by Corelle, and "chablis" by Casual Elegance Hearthside. Nothing more cozy and familiar than these things, which you use every day.)

Maybe they don't like the '80s and '90s aesthetic per se, but I doubt it. I think they just got their minds warped by their helicopter parents sticking them in front of a screen all day long their whole lives. They didn't even notice the physical tangible items within their own household, unless it was also shown to them on a TV commercial or a Disney live-action movie.

Whereas we Gen X-ers remember all of that stuff from being plugged into real life, and in particular *other people's* lives, wandering from one home to another on a daily basis.

It can't be understated how Millennials' experiences of the world have been entirely mass-mediated, rather than derived from direct unmediated experience. See this recent post and the links to much older posts therein. Only in their 30s are they starting to venture out into the world and noticing what kinds of strange things are in it, that were never shown to them on TV, movies, video games, or internet memes.

So, they show no awareness of what the major visual tropes were, like plates and pots having salmon pink and teal green (or baby blue), or ducks and geese being put on everything. Contrast that to Gen X-ers who know that mushrooms were put on everything in the '70s, and that the yellow / orange / brown combination was everywhere.

Another example from household items -- you never hear Millennials talk about '90s furniture, even though it is highly distinctive. But Gen X-ers can easily tell you what '80s furniture or '70s or '60s furniture looked like, felt like, etc. Millennials had furniture in their homes, sat on it, slept on it, ate at it, all day, every day of their formative years. But it did not leave an impression in their memories because it wasn't sent through a screen.

The only exceptions there are things that were popular on a hit TV show, like "Woah, that looks like a Zack from Saved by the Bell blanket". Or, "This room looks like Clarissa Explains It All". It's not "My best friend had that exact blanket -- it's so '90s!" They never spent any time at other people's homes. But even their own home is a blank to them!

Sorry, but it's weird how no matter how much time I spend in thrift stores, I never see Millennials having a laugh about those over-the-top wacky patterns from '90s bedding and linens. They just walk right by them, not even a chuckle. You know which ones I'm talking about!

But these absolutely ubiquitous items, so unmistakably identified with kid-world during the American 1990s, just go right over their heads because they weren't prominently linked to a hit TV show, movie, etc. Contrast to every kid who grew up in the '70s talking about what their curtains, carpeting, etc. used to look like. You don't have to be a fan of it, or of furniture and home decor at all -- you just had to have experienced reality directly, because your parents let you roam freely, like natural human beings.

Since the '90s and 2000s have never received a proper revival in the mass media, Millennials and Zoomers cannot call up images of those decades as a whole, despite having lived through them. Whereas there has been a mass media revival or nostalgia for the '50s, '60s, '70s, and especially '80s -- so they can find something in a thrift store and say, "Wow, that teapot looks like it belongs in The Conjuring", or "That's such a Stranger Things shirt", or "Now there's a Mad Men chair..."

Common culture shared by all has died definitively since the usurper Biden stole his way into the White House. Common culture was already rocky during the 2010s, but was still unified and bipartisan. You didn't have to be left or right to be taking part in the ubiquitous '80s revival. Now, nobody wants to belong to a single national culture. So there will be no '90s or 2000s revival, like there was an '80s revival. No endless portrayals, with period accuracy, from media or entertainment. After all, a shared revival is still shared culture, even if it's not new culture.

And therefore, no way for the screen-mediated memories of post-X-er generations to identify everyday items from the '90s and after, even if they grew up with them in their own households.

To conclude, I have to emphasize that these have all been social changes, not technological ones. Their parents are the forces responsible for them having little contact with other households growing up, and for being stuck in front of screens within their own nuclear home. The TV set, VCR, computer monitor, and video game console, do not have agency of their own. They are just inanimate tools with no will of their own, employed by the parents to accomplish the goals of the parents -- keep kids from being contaminated by the dirty scary Outside World.

But being shut in all day, every day of a kid's life is not a sustainable situation. They're curious and need *some* kind of interaction with a place outside the home, and with people or other characters outside their home. Enter the mass media. Suddenly they can leave the environment and cast of characters from their own home, and get some outside stimulation. But in so doing, the helicopter parents have sewn their kids' eyes shut to even their own home, not to mention the rest of the real world, and programmed their kids' brains to equate what it shown through screens with reality.

It's not the nature or essence of these technological devices that has this effect. Gen X-ers grew up with radio, TV, movies, and video games -- but that was only a tiny slice of the sensory input for our developing brains, most of which was IRL and unmediated and social and outside the damn home. That's because our parents were different from those of Millennials and Zoomers. They had different goals, different styles of parenting, and therefore they used these devices differently on us -- letting them be there for occasional distraction, but not parking us in front of them all day, telling us that it was better than venturing outside the safety of home where there might be bad influences (AKA your neighbors and community).

Some time sooner than later, the young generation is going to start ditching the online media and living more of their lives unmediated and IRL. Maybe Gen Alpha, or the next after them. And in 10-20 years, young people will be making fun of the middle-aged geezers who are still stuck to their dorky handheld computers ("phones"), instead of doing anything real. That moment cannot come soon enough -- for the past decade, it's been nothing but the young generation scoffing at older people for being real instead of terminally online, as though that's the hip, cool, wild & crazy way to be a teenager or 20-something!

The natural order is for young people to live directly, and old people to be plugged into "their stories" on TV, after having acquired so much direct experience when they were growing up. But when Millennials get old -- in about five seconds -- they're going to be in the strange position of only being plugged into "their stories" (albeit online rather than via TV), but without having had all those direct experiences and memories from their formative years. An entire lifetime of existential void and abyss, caused entirely by their over-reactive helicopter parents.

However, since we've begun the rising-crime phase of the crime-and-cocooning cycle, I predict that the middle-aged Millennials and Zoomers are going to go total freak-out mode, in a desperate attempt to make up for their lost abyss of a youth. Exactly like the Silent Generation during the late '60s and '70s, whose youth was sheltered during the cocooning phase of the mid-'30s through the '50s. All of that weird stuff from the late '60s and '70s was by and for the Silents, not the Boomers (who were mere children at that time).

That's what happens when you shelter your kids -- prevent them from developing naturally, then they go totally off-the-wall in middle age. I wouldn't discount the chances of another acute divorce epidemic when Millennials and Zoomers hit middle age. Everyone knows they've basically never had sex as young people, and when they're 40, they're going to be bitter and try to make up for it -- plus the zeitgeist will be much more accommodating, since young people are going to get wilder in the coming decades, so middle-aged men will have willing young partners like they have not had since the '60, '70s, or '80s.

For the first time in awhile, the world's about to get a whole lot more lit, socially and not just economically or politically.

December 13, 2021

Vocal harmonies, dance, and cultural correlates of egalitarian economic eras

Checked out a Bee Gees greatest hits CD from the library and been playing it a lot the past couple weeks. It reminded me of this classic post of mine from 2013, back when I was one of the only people popularizing and doing original extensions of Peter Turchin's work on secular cycles and the structural-demographic model. I still basically am the only one.

Still, I've been more fascinated by the cultural correlates of the changing phases of political & economic cycles. Not that they're more important in some utilitarian, society-managing sense -- they're just more interesting.

Anyway, one of the clearest signals I found was close harmony in popular music vocals, linking all of the New Deal era together, and clearly separating it from the neoliberal afterward. After the inauguration of Reagan and Thatcher in the Anglosphere, the only popular groups to use close harmony were Bananarama in the '80s, and Wilson Phillips during their brief heyday of the early '90s. No single member of either group was clearly "the lead singer" or "the one poised for a solo career". But these two groups were the exception during the transition to neoliberalism.

After that, there were a handful of black girl-groups like En Vogue and SWV, but by that point the harmonies were occasional, and most of the vocals were from one girl at a time, moving from one to another. Still less hyper-competitive than one woman doing all the vocals as lead diva, but not as harmonious, as it were, compared to close harmonies throughout. By the y2k era, Destiny's Child was basically Beyonce and two back-up singers, and she quickly launched into a solo career.

A pattern I did not remark on in the OP is that close harmonies are more characteristic of the less pretentious genres -- pop, disco, dance in general. Far less common in rock, especially its harder forms, or any form of rap, which are more about the lead singer / MC who is there to let you know how much better he is than all the other pale imitations among his rivals.

I neglected to include ABBA in the list of harmonizing groups who kept the spirit alive in the '70s, and of course they were mostly a pop / disco group. And no, it's not because Scandinavians are genetically programmed to be more egalitarian (although they are), since their blood-cousins in the Nordic metal bands would never use close harmonies. And whatever Swedish rappers are out there, do not do so either.

That underscores how egalitarian of an environment a dance floor is, whether it's trad folk circle dances or mod neon disco. Sure, there's usually someone (like me) in that room who is the greatest dancer -- they'll even write songs about him (Sister Sledge). But that hierarchy doesn't rise to the level of a lead singer or lead guitar soloist at a stadium rock concert commanding the attention of 10s of thousands of fans. Dance clubs are way more down-to-earth, easy-going, we're all just as special as each other, kinds of places. What's there to be pretentiously hierarchical about? Lighten up -- it's just disco! Cut loose, have fun, and don't worry about someone else hogging all the attention. It's not going to happen.

Perhaps this is another reason why music critics love rock and rap, and hate anything danceable -- aside from the obvious, which is that critics are cerebral nerds who are tone-deaf, can't carry a tune, and have two left feet. They also want to lionize the god-like individual ubermensch, and egalitarian genres like dance, with their communitarian setting of a crowded local dance floor, are never going to produce that, while rock and rap does produce a pronounced hierarchy of gods vs. mere mortals.

It's also another hilarious example of libtards being the most enthusiastically Gilded Age and Ayn Randian in their aesthetic preferences. Nobody loves Victorian novels more than Democrats, and they were produced by a rising-inequality period. Indeed, they barely resonate with the literary output of the egalitarian periods on either side of the Gilded Age -- the Romantic era of 1780 to 1830, or the New Deal era of 1930 to 1980. Even today, they are more wedded to the cultural correlates of 1980 to present, than they are to the New Deal culture (aside from a few token gestures to Seventies Hollywood or French New Wave).

I don't think you have to reject the culture from a period whose economics you ostensibly abhor. Cultural works should be judged and appreciated on their own aesthetic merits. I'm just pointing out what is either a hilarious mismatch between which eras the left wants to work in vs. want to enjoy the culture of -- or to highlight that maybe today's left are barely concealed Victorians and neoliberals, *not* Romantics or New Dealers, and so their cultural sensibilities are entirely concordant with their anti-egalitarian, status-striving, Me Not Them, economic agendas.

At any rate, let's cleanse the palate with a reminder of what the tail-end of the New Deal sounded like, "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees (1979). I was playing this while driving down the main drag through the city yesterday, and a cute girl in tight leggings saw random hot guy cruising slowly and decided to stop my car entirely by strutting her buns across the street, outside of a crosswalk (ooh, such a naughty girl...) That earned her a nice little OWW OWWWW! from the driver.

You may think that a slow or soft song clashes with catcalling, but there's nothing more appropriate than some soulful slow-dance music to get her in the mood for being pleasantly and playfully objectified. Today's tastemakers cannot tolerate catcalling, heterosexuality, dance music, dancing period (especially slow-dancing), and egalitarian social and economic outcomes. But to hell with their degenerate, boring, enervated crap.

Leave the pod, spit out the bugs, rip off the mask, catcall hot girls, and play harmonizing dance music for the masses.

December 12, 2021

Frustrated would-be Manic Pixie Dream Girls: Michelle Branch, "All You Wanted" (2001)

Let's return for a bit to the theme of what the would-be Manic Pixie Dream Girls are up to during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle -- when people are in a refractory state, do not want to be bothered, and therefore when the MPDG's services are generally unwelcome.

An earlier post looked at one who was doomed in her attempt at playing the role of the protag's earthly guardian angel. That suggests that the type of women who would be a MPDG in the proper phase of the cycle -- the restless warm-up phase, when people are coming out of their vulnerable-phase cocoons, but some are wary and need some coaxing -- feel an impulse to play that role, even when it's not meant to be, due to the refractory state that everyone else is in.

So perhaps being born during the manic phase of the cycle gives a person a lifelong mission to play that role, and sometimes they are broadly rejected, while other times they are broadly welcomed, depending on what phase of the cycle it currently is. Manic-phase births are resilient, having imprinted on a zeitgeist of invincibility, and aren't going to let a little wet-blanket atmosphere stop them from at least trying to be earthly guardian angels.

Here's another textbook case, albeit from music rather than movies: "All You Wanted" by Michelle Branch, from the early 2000s vulnerable phase. The guy she's addressing is down in the dumps, feeling lonely inside and all mixed-up from the chaos in his environment. Lest anyone get confused about her guardian angel role, the chorus puts it plainly: "If you want to / I can save you..." And there's that therapeutic bartender aspect again: "And all you wanted was somebody who cares".

Unfortunately, it's a vulnerable phase, so not only do they not end up together (which is typical for the MPDG and the sad-sack protag), but she doesn't get to motivate and inspire him to achieve the greatest things that he can, and find true love (with some other love interest). The song is more about the would-be MPDG's frustration of being a guardian angel in a world where no one wants to be saved, but rather left to suffer alone. Doomed just as much as the would-be MPDG from Frantic.

Like the actual MPDGs, though, she fits the profile. She's born in a manic phase (early '80s), hourglass shape, butt girl rather than boob girl, and taller than the average for a girl (5'6, although their heights have a wide variation).

I checked out her work from the late 2000s restless phase, when she could have realized her MPDG potential, but it didn't seem to pan out. Maybe because it was a side project (a country duo, the Wreckers), rather than her main singer-songwriter career, I don't know. Too bad.

At any rate, the line in the chorus about yearning to save someone makes me wonder about the whole "I can save him" meme. Wasn't that primarily during the late 2010s, that is, another vulnerable phase? If you want to save him, just go ahead and do it -- unless everyone's in a refractory state, and you feel doomed in your yearning to save him. I also wonder whether these girls were primarily manic-phase births, that is, born in the late '90s? Impossible to conduct a survey to verify, but I suspect my hunch is correct.

Those poor girls had imprinted on an invincible, resilient zeitgeist at birth, and when they're undergoing their second birth of adolescence at age 15, it's another invincible zeitgeist (early 2010s). Everything seems to be going so well! And then suddenly, when they're in college around age 20, their would-be bfs are all mopey and touch-me-not. If only she could snap him out of his funk, and cure what ails him...

But now, as of 2020, these late '90s babes (and any hold-outs from the early '80s cohort) can work their MPDG magic on the sad sacks of the world, and they will be welcomed with open arms rather than pushed away like they were five years ago.

December 10, 2021

"Santa Aimee"

I know I said I wouldn't do these often anymore, but I couldn't resist after seeing her in that hat for her new profile pic. Just a fragment, though maybe I'll put together a medley by the time Christmas comes.

Hope you're enjoying our wintertime coziness, special fren. (One benefit of parasocial media -- vicariously connecting with out-of-season seasons. Hehe.)

* * *

Santa Aimee, I'd really love some weekly livestreams, and memes
Of that frog and his girl
Santa Aimee, uncurse the lonely timeline tonight

Santa Aimee, a photograph of lovers who're doomed, perfumed
With your figgy sig scent
Santa Aimee, uncurse the lonely timeline tonight

Think of all the libs I gimp'd
Think of all the thots for whom I never simped
Next year I could be just as based
If you just make my Christmas pimped (uwu, uwu)

December 8, 2021

Girls are restless to compliment you on your drip, unlike during #MeToo hysteria of several years ago

In another sign of our having left behind the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, with its touch-me-not #MeToo hysteria, as of 2020, I've noticed that girls are way more itching to approach you out of the blue in public and tell you they like a certain thing you're wearing, or your whole outfit, or you just look so cool, etc.

I doubt it's a change in my dressing habits, since I've worn lots of these things for years without getting complimented on them during the 2015-'19 vulnerable phase. But since 2020, as people have begun to come out of their shells (yes, in defiance of the COVID hysteria), I've noticed a striking change. I've occasionally remarked on these incidents in the comments section here, but two incidents happened almost back-to-back this week, making it feel like the topic is worth a post of its own.

A few days ago, I was wearing a variation on this sweater jacket that I found for $20 at an antique store several years ago. (My variant is more contrast-y, with brown on the collar and cuffs, and more bands of the brown geometric motif). It usually gets a compliment when I wear it, but this was the first time that someone felt compelled to say something after not seizing the opportunity when they first saw it.

At a thrift store there was a group of two girls and two guys (seemingly not their gay BFFs, not their bfs), and one of the girls was wearing a similar Cowichan kind of sweater jacket. She didn't say anything, or even give me a long stare, while in the store. Then as I'm walking away in the parking lot, I hear a girl's voice call out from behind, "I LOVE YOUR SWEATER!!!!" With a nervous intonation on "sweater," like "I mean, if it's OK for me to say that in this setting..." Of course it is, dummy. They were all at their car, at least 20-30 feet away, but she just couldn't let me get away without telling me what she had apparently been dying to tell me back in the store.

Pro-tip for girls: if you think you might ever be in a situation where you want to compliment a guy, or hit on him, or just lock eyes with him, do not be with other guys, no matter their relationship to you. You can travel with them, for protection or whatever. But if you want to hit on some other guy, they can't be nearby at that moment -- too awkward for them, and for me. They're acting as your surrogate brothers, so all of a sudden I have to look at them like, "Hey, I'm not going to fuck your sister here, don't worry," even if that is exactly the plan.

Millennials and Zoomers have been victims of helicopter parenting, though, so they never got to learn these crucial social lessons growing up, as they were locked indoors during childhood and adolescence, with only mass media to entertain them and teach them.

Then today it was really off to the races. I finally got to pimp something I picked up during the spring, when it was too warm to wear, but I knew would come in handy when it got cold. It's a black Persian lamb short-length coat with a black fur collar, similar to this one but all black. Wore it with a white button-down shirt with navy stripes, a navy wool knit tie (the skinny rectangular kind), with a silver-toned tie bar, dark brown cotton twill pants, black belt, black ankle boots, and a navy beret.

Too much drip for the wimps, I know, and I feel sorry for you, but I don't dress this way every day either, and the gestalt is still understated rather than information overload. Other than the white background of the shirt, there was not a lot of color contrast going on, so it looked more subdued than the checklist of items sounds. Only contrast in pattern and texture was on the coat itself, where the smooth sleek fur collar borders the curly springy wool shell.

This look was cool enough that I even got props from a random black guy who works at the supermarket (and was not gay), who said I've always got something cool on, albeit in different styles, but this one he had to say so personally. I didn't get the sense he was a style guy himself -- big and tall, jeans & t-shirt kind of guy. But when you make a good impression, it makes other guys want to aspire to make an impression, too.

Before then, in another supermarket (yes, one of the few hang-out-for-awhile spaces left in our decaying society), this girl walked by me, then doubled back five seconds later. "I just have to say, I love your coat..." This one definitely wanted to be noticed herself, sporting nothing more than a triangle bikini inspired top, ample cleavage and tummy. Not being a boob man, I only got distracted for a moment because I thought "it's 30 degrees outside and she's wearing nothing on top". Easily fixed my eyes on her eyes for the duration of our little chat. Me saying that I'd picked it up for cheap at a thrift store, and she mirroring with a story of her jacket that everyone loves, which she also got for nothing at a thrift store.

But the most rewarding approach was from a cutie-cute Zoomer alt-girl who works at the thrift store where I originally bought it. She and another worker were playing dress-up in front of a mirror, when I wandered near for a bit. After I had drifted a little ways away, I hear someone walk up behind me in a narrow aisle, saying, "I really love the way you look -- I mean, the coat, the hat, it's just all so cool, and, yeah...." Such a yearning, eager-to-please intonation. I mentioned that I bought it here for only $11, how crazy, right? "Yeah, I know, crazy, right?" she mirrored back to me, giggling.

I've said it since the late 2000s when I began writing about the appeal of young girls -- it's not primarily their outward physical appearance that lures you in (although that's certainly part of it). It's mainly their personality, demeanor, energy, and social-emotional style -- eager to connect, highly reactive, intense, incapable of hiding their feelings, and generally being smiley and giggly. It's just so sweet and tender, while also being exciting and stimulating, and their tinge of nervousness makes you want to protect, assure, and hug them, to say that everything's going to be cool.

They effortlessly work their way right through your defenses. Just as you can't look away from their taut glowing skin, you cannot just feel nothing in the presence of their extraverted, nervous giggling. Mother Nature designed them with a sixth sense for appealing to men, not just having ripe bods, but the way they are animated. Older women, having already married and begun to raise children, do not need to attract such attention, and their demeanor does not feel as brought-to-life.

I wonder whether she's a late '90s manic-phase birth, or an early 2000s vulnerable-phase birth. I can't tell exactly how old she is, but around college age. If she's born in the late '90s, then it's no surprise that she felt comfortable approaching a guy, being nurturing, tender, and all the other Manic Pixie Dream Girl behaviors. But if she's from the Billie Eilish cohort, it takes a lot for them to approach a random hot guy and start babbling about how cool he looks. So there's hope for them yet! :)

Only thing I regret not doing tonight is inviting them to touch the fur collar, "Go ahead and feel it -- it's real, isn't that cool?" While they're at it, they could probably not help touching the curly lambswool either. Coming out of our shells socially and emotionally is a great start, but at some point we need to get comfortable casually touching other people again, after the late 2010s refractory phase where any contact threatened to over-stimulate them and crash their nervous system.

I also thought of a potential response if one of these approachers blurts out her under-18 age, like they used to do back in the late 2000s. "Well, we're lucky there's no laws against flirting, then, eh?" with a subtle smile and wink at the end.

Anyway, what are you guys waiting for? Get your drip on, and girls will notice, and approach. At least, they'll have something heating up on the stove in case you speak to her first, and you two can hit the ground running, to mix metaphors. And no, it's not just the hot guys who will succeed here -- I'm a 10, and I didn't get frequent compliments about my outfit during the late 2010s either.

Now it's more like it was during the last restless phase of the cycle, the late 2000s, when girls were also inclined to just come right up to me with compliments and flirtation, totally unlike the early 2000s vulnerable phase, when I was in college. What a horrible time for the two sexes. But we got over it by 2005, and as of 2020 we have gotten over the late 2010s vulnerable phase. So no excuses: they're restless, you're restless, get out there and interact IRL.

December 3, 2021

Are young people averse to hookups, or only their IRL form, preserving them online?

Getting back to the topic of the de-sexualization of youth culture over the past 30 years, here again is the discussion from the Red Scare subreddit wherein young people from the liberal / hip demographic largely agree with the title of the post, that casual sex kinda sucks. The whole wam, bam, thank you ma'am approach leaves you empty inside, it's psychologically damaging to separate sex from emotional intimacy, and so on and so forth.

As awareness spread of the new abstinence among young people, thanks largely to my extensive coverage of the topic in the late 2000s and early 2010s, some social conservatives hailed this as a victory. In some ways, it was, but I warned that in others, it was not. It was not a moral change, like living by the value of chastity, but simply part of a broader cocooning phenomenon that was having all sorts of other negative effects. And the moment the cocooning trend reversed, so would the trend of de-sexualization, and we'd get the '60s, '70s, and '80s all over again.

Ten years later, and observing the rise of parasocial media, we can see just how little of a moral or psychological change this has been. These days, young people exist primarily online rather than IRL, which itself is part of cocooning. They have pseudo-sexual relations, as well as pseudo-social relationships, mediated by online platforms and apps.

If the "not having sex" trend reflected a change in core values, then this new set of chaste values would be apparent in their online behavior as well, not only in the absence of IRL promiscuity.

Pseudo-sexual relations take place on porn sites, where the person watches porn videos while masturbating. Strange as it may seem to Millennials and Zoomers, masturbation did not always take place while watching porn -- you could always use your own imagination. And when that was the norm among young people, they tended to imagine someone from their IRL social world, like the cute girls or guys from their high school or college. There was a small number of people they imagined having sex with, and their imaginary affairs happened with the same small number of people, time and again. This kept it from being a faceless, anonymous, never-to-be-seen-again series of trysts.

If young people were so averse to one-night-stands, then their porn habits should reflect that -- they should watch the same performer, or maybe a small number of them, each time they go on the site. But in reality, they have a simulated one-night-stand with whoever strikes their fancy during each visit to the site. Sure, they may have a fave they go back to every once in awhile, but the vast majority of their imaginary relations are one-off hookups, not a recurring relationship.

And if young people were so averse to decoupling sexuality from emotional intimacy, that happens even in an ongoing relationship that is not emotional (like a fuck buddy / fwb situation). So even if they came back to the same porn performer time after time, if the extent of their pseudo-relationship is strictly sexual (jerking off), then they are engaged in nothing more than a pseudo-fuck-buddy situation -- not a pseudo-romantic relationship.

With their pseudo-fwb on a porn site, there's no conversation, humor, non-sexual contact like hugging on the couch, post-climax cuddling / pillow talk / petting her hair while she rests her head on your chest, etc. The porn sites do not simulate waking up and making breakfast to enjoy together the morning after.

So, their sexual desires are still in the direction of promiscuity rather than monogamy, and no-strings-attached rather than emotional intimacy. You just have to look at their online behavior since they are such cocooners that they leave little evidence of their desires IRL.

But the evidence goes further than that -- it's not as if they don't want regular, recurring social partners of the opposite sex, with whom they have an emotionally intense bond. It's just that these pseudo-relationships take place on entirely different sites, with a cast of characters that does not overlap at all with those of the porn sites. Namely, the parasocial relationships that young people form with podcasters, YouTubers, Twitch streamers, TikTokers, and posters on Tumblr or Twitter.

Although there's a minority of real degenerates who tune in to Pokimane's Twitch streams in order to fantasize about her sexually, most everyone is watching in order to form and renew a parasocial relationship with her. It's as though she were their friend, albeit a cute friend who they just might have a chance with under the right circumstances -- but that's just an option or potentiality, and she is primarily their substitute friend.

Unlike their porn-site behavior, young people go back to the same personas on parasocial media platforms time and again. They are loyal fans, ride-or-die BFFs. They don't feel an itch they need to scratch by listening to a podcast, then pull up any ol' podcast and just listen away for two hours to whatever-their-names-are as they discuss whatever-it-may-be. There is little akin to channel-surfing or mindless scrolling through infinite options to whet their appetite. In contrast to their porn behavior, they are mostly monogamous, and crave enduring emotional bonds, in their parasocial media behavior.

And that is reflected in the relative *absence* of anhedonia on parasocial media. Sure, they may grow bored of a podcast or streamer after a long while, but they mostly feel good each time they listen to the podcast, tune into the livestream, follow their posts, and so on and so forth. They burn out on a particular porn performer looong before they burn out on a particular podcaster or poster.

Yet these pseudo-friendships never really develop further into dating your friend, and maybe becoming steady bf / gf, getting married, having kids, moving in together, etc. The parasocial persona is someone you're probably attracted to, and wouldn't mind pseudo-dating them or pseudo-fucking them (wacking off to their nudes, or maybe just when they're wearing shorts on stream). But there's a fairly strong self-imposed barrier between the pornographic and the parasocial, among the userbase.

That goes into second-order policing as well -- the other users will shame you if you get horny for a parasocial persona on a parasocial platform. (Hope she sees this bro, she's not gonna fuck you, *bonk*, go to horny jail, etc.) If it's bad enough, the persona's mods could time you out or ban you, or she herself could call you out for being a creepy weirdo before the rest of the audience.

Getting back in their good graces is a whole 'nother social ritual, i.e. the highly popular genre of "unban requests" among big-time streamers. The users who transgressed the parasocial code by porno-fying it with their lewd comments about the streamer, must apologize or do penance, in order to prove they're rehabilitated and will no longer contaminate the two online domains together.

All of this goes to show how the Millennial and Zoomer generations desire a strict separation of the sexual / physical from the social / emotional. You just have to look at their online behavior, since they scarcely exist IRL. Don't believe anything they say about "I just feel like sex without love is meaningless," when their pseudo-sexual relations are masturbating to simulated one-night-stands, and when they are commitment-phobic about ever allowing a pseudo-friendship to mature into a pseudo-romance.

When the social mood changes back to outgoing-ness, which was under way during 2019 before the artificial hit to it by the COVID-19 hysteria, perhaps Gen Alpha or the one after them will revive the interest in one-night-stands as an emotionally fulfilling encounter, and not merely a physical release. That's how Silents and Boomers treated them back in the '70s and '80s. There was a romantic appeal to "ships passing in the night". So much so that even soft-rock hits employed the trope, as opposed to now when only those with degenerate or hardcore branding discuss, let alone validate, one-night-stands.

To end on, here's a reminder of that bygone social climate, "Sharing the Night Together" by Dr. Hook from 1978:

December 1, 2021

The crime-and-cocooning cycle, and the futility of top-down interventions to halt or reverse crime waves

In a recent discussion at the Red Scare subreddit, the under-40 hip demographic is largely bemoaning casual sex. No surprise to the long-time readers here. I'll get back to that discussion in another post. For now, I want to review my crime-and-cocooning cycle, which casual sex is a part of (risky interpersonal behavior, distinguishing a wild-times zeitgeist from a lowkey zeitgeist).

The model is always relevant, but especially now that crime rates have started skyrocketing for two years in a row, which I predicted back in the early 2010s. Looking at previous crime waves, they lasted about 60 years, roughly 35 years up and 25 years down. The last peak was in 1992, so I figured the down-trend would last through 2017, and trend up after that. So it began in 2020 rather than 2018 -- close enough for vindication. Everyone else either said that crime would only ever go up, or only ever go down, that long-term cycles were impossible. Maybe a one-off shock to the system could touch off a wave, or maybe a one-off technological change could bring crime down -- but no long-term cycles with endogenous boom-and-bust dynamics.

I first began writing about the de-sexualization of youth culture way back in 2007 (for the Gene Expression blog), when I first read about the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which randomly surveys high schoolers every other year for a variety of risky behaviors -- early sex, being promiscuous (i.e. 4+ partners in the past year), drug use, getting into fights, not wearing a seatbelt, and so on and so forth.

The upshot: since the '90s, these behaviors have all been trending *down* among young people -- contra the conservatard propaganda about how debauched we are becoming -- in contrast to their clear rise during the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Ditto for crime rates (violent and property both). At the same time, cocooning has taken root, in contrast to the outgoing mood of the '60s - '80s.

Basically the correlation is between rising-crime and an outgoing mood, and falling-crime and a cocooning mood. And the social mood changes direction first, then the crime rate changes.

To summarize my crime-and-cocooning cycle, start when crime rates are low and people are cocooning. At some point they have only known safe environments, and awareness of the rising-crime times fades away. So they begin to ask what the point of constantly hunkering down is -- what's the harm in being more outgoing? Not just getting out in public more often, but letting your guard down and trusting strangers and the crowd more in these public places. Criminals now have far more easy targets -- people in public not reflexively defending themselves -- so the crime rate goes up. At a certain point, crime rises for so long -- despite all efforts to stop it -- that people conclude there is nothing that can stop it, so they simply retreat into their cocoons, spending less time in public, and spending what time they do in public with their guard up. That removes the easy targets for criminals, so the crime rate plummets. And then the cycle repeats.

The outgoing vs. cocooning mood is the only thing that explains cycles in crime rates, other than changes in the youthfulness of the population (i.e., the younger it gets due to a baby boom, the more crime-ridden it gets due to the overproduction of hotheads). You can forget all the other standard nonsense about incarceration and other top-down interventions. Having a police force only determines the long-term average for crime in that society, and the cycles up and down around that average are entirely unaffected by changes in policing and legal policies.

Crime rates plummeted throughout the entire Western world during the '90s, 2000s, and 2010s -- not just in nations like America that started locking everybody up for minor drug offenses, putting more cops on the street, etc. The closest comparison is Canada, where they are famously non-punitive in their criminal justice system, and where if anything there were *fewer* police per capita at the end of the '90s than the beginning. Also, soaring incarcerations in America began way back in the '70s, whereas the crime rate only peaked in '92 -- terrible delay, if you honestly thought this cause would have that effect.

Most conservatards stuck their fingers in their ears when I laid out all of this evidence, when it was my main topic from 2009 to 2012 (see the archives in the right-hand column). I don't see much of a sign that they have learned anything since then either. It's still largely, "BLM says defund the cops, so ackshually shit-loads of cops and long punitive sentences mean crime goes down". There's no point in debating with them, it's just one of those things they'll never understand, like how libtards can never understand anything about violations of purity and taboo. Their brains are just wired against it.

The simplest way to see it is in their blind insistence that locking up a criminal means the crime rate goes down a tiny bit, with him off the street, so if you lock up more and more, that tiny bit gets multiplied by all those individuals who are removed from the public, ergo the public space gets safer.

But this is an autistic mechanical engineer's view of a social system, which instead requires a model from ecology that has positive and negative feedback loops, stable states, perturbations, and so on. People respond to the top-down interventions -- the interventions are not the final word in the dynamics. So if the cops remove person A from the street, then person B will take his place, fill his slot, play his role. Zero change in the crime rate. If anything, removing A could destabilize the local ecosystem, cause a power vacuum, and lead to more crime as people B, C, and D all compete over who will replace the removed person A. It's like regime change, at a small scale.

Why does A get replaced by someone else, instead of the system just tolerating or accepting the absence of A forever? Because there was some kind of "demand" for A, not in a good way of course, just that he was getting rewarded, making a living, earning status, getting chicks (perhaps by force, if the role were "rapist"), or whatever else made it appealing to A. Just because that particular occupant of the role gets removed, does not remove all of those appealing aspects of his role -- therefore someone else will fill his empty slot. Again, if anything several people will be competing for his vacant spot.

The easiest way to think of it is removing someone from their "turf" -- well, either an existing criminal is going to take over their turf, or an upstart is going to take it over. Either way, *someone* is taking over that turf and doing those activities, which means the crime rate stays the same, it's only being done by someone other than the original turf-lord.

Drug dealer A gets locked up, then existing drug dealer B expands his turf, or upstart dealer C enters the game in A's place.

Rapist A gets locked up, now his prowling grounds are uncontested for existing rapist B to expand into, or for local upstart C to get into the role.

Hothead A who picks fights at a bar gets locked up, now the next-most hotheaded regular at that bar becomes the one who is always beefing with others.

Thief / robber / carjacker A gets locked up, now all those homes, cars, and wallets inside his turf are going unstolen -- so existing thief B will expand his turf to take advantage of A's absence, or upstart C will decide now is the perfect time to get into the role.

And so on and so forth.

During rising-crime times, it used to be common knowledge that cops were powerless to halt, let alone reverse, a crime wave. They always got to the scene of the crime too late. At best they could interview witnesses (the only thing they do that statistically helps to close a case -- forensic evidence rarely helps without witnesses and interviews, another classic autistic delusion by the NCSI-watching nerds from falling-crime times). Closing a case may provide epistemic and moral closure, and locking the criminal up can be a kind of just punishment for his offense -- but closing cases does not drive down the crime rate. It is not an intervention that can change how the system is behaving.

All of the cops-and-robbers movies from the '80s show the police as bumbling, ineffectual, outsmarted, or outright dismissing the complaints from the citizenry. ("Yeah right, buddy, a masked robber is breaking into your house -- what do you think this is, the movies? Is he wearing striped pyjamas, too? Go bother somebody else with your fairytales.")

And please, don't start with the techno-utopian bullshit. "Sick of rising crime? -- there's an app for that!" The nerds couldn't even make that happen when they built real physical machines like the ED-209 from RoboCop -- and QE-funded boondoggles that run on your smartphone are capable of even less. Christ, just imagine how much more dystopian the outcomes could be, with wunderkind Elon Musk tasked by the central bank with manufacturing the human-free police force and their equipment! "Woah bro, check it out, I call it the EM-42069..."

I'm not beating up a straw man -- leading theories about the falling-crime trend since the '90s were techno-utopian. We removed lead from the water / gasoline / etc. We started using steering wheel locks. We started having cell phones everywhere (this was offered during the dumbphone era, as well as the smartphone era). THE INTERNET. Just the most mind-numbingly moronic things you could think up, and all of them adhering to the autistic orthodoxy of "no long-term cyclical dynamics in crime". It had to have been some novel, exogenous shock to the system, whose crime levels would have otherwise kept on getting worse, or at best remained at the same awful level, were it not for the external shock.

This is not to say that this crime wave will be a perfect repeat of the last one. They never perfectly repeat, because of how they interact with other cycles. Our last one was not taking place amid the backdrop of imperial decline and de facto national fragmentation. Only the '80s leg of the wave was during the neoliberal era, while the '60s and '70s legs were during the New Deal era.

The point is, a lot of the big-picture outcomes will look like they did all the other times that crime has risen for decades.

I'm setting all of this down, not because convincing people or winning an intellectual debate will affect crime rates or social behaviors -- that's idealism. It's purely for its own sake, to get the model right, and to preserve the fundamental truth against an onslaught of clever-silly faggotry.

NB: This topic is a perennial attractor of dumb arguments, objections, and nitpicking. So unlike usual, I'm not going to just approve any old comments. If you reiterate an objection I have already dealt with in the OP, or try to develop a variation on that theme, or pick another member of an entire family that has been dealt with, I'm not going to rehash things in the comments.

If you're going to make a substantial point, at a minimum it had better apply to the entire Western world during both the recent rise in crime from the '60s - '80s, as well as the decline from the '90s - 2010s. Anything less than that is narrow, nitpicking, ad hoc stuff that does not explain the big picture. Even better if you deal with the previous crime wave, rising from ca. 1900 to '33, and falling during the rest of the '30s, '40s, and '50s. Good observations and models apply broadly, not narrowly.

November 27, 2021

"Brew Brew Brew Brew" by the Vengagroyps (cozy Tea Tunes tribute)

To close out the thankful-for-frens weekend and cozy season as a whole, here's a tribute to the tradition of Special Boy Tea Tunes. Something I've never directly taken part in (not being on any social media), but whose wholesomeness is unavoidable if you read the cozy groyper accounts (like the host of the event, @groyper on Gab). No point in spelling out the references -- either this is for you, or it's not. But even if not, you can still get the gist of its appeal.

It's set to the tune of "Boom Boom Boom Boom" by the Vengaboys, which would be ideal for a Jungle Jamz session during the summer. Still, we need infectiously bouncy music at all times of the year.

Like the original lyrics, there's no real big picture here, just a simple straightforward message to not be alone when you're feeling down, only adapted to our too-online era, and making it more about frens than a fwb. The therapeutic power of bubblegummy dance music will never fade, though.

Pronunciation guide: to maintain the strict UNH-tsss rhythm, during the pre-chorus, stress on "and" in the 2nd line, and "to" in the 6th line.

* * *


Welcome to the underground



You spilled your tendies and could use some frens
Someone to help you evade your permaban
Just come and log on, froggy, join the chat
We're gonna make it tonight

Groypers, Peepos, and Apus
Make jungle grunts
Vibing to the purest moods

Brew, brew, brew, brew!
It's time for tea and tunes
Enjoying cozy weather
No e-girls whatsoever

Brew, brew, brew, brew!
We're gonna shout AGOO
Enjoying cozy weather
With Weather Channel tunes

Everybody monke 'round
Welcome to the underground

Groypers, Peepos, and Apus
Make jungle grunts
Vibing to the purest moods

Brew, brew, brew, brew!
It's time for tea and tunes
Enjoying cozy weather
No e-girls whatsoever

Brew, brew, brew, brew!
We're gonna shout AGOO
Enjoying cozy weather
With Weather Channel tunes

November 25, 2021

Thankful for frens

Posting will be light through the weekend, feel free to use this as an open thread.

For now, a message of thankfulness for frens, including a special fren. Our roles may change, but that doesn't mean we drift apart and stop being frens. We will always be thankful for the frens we have had, and continue to have.

Maybe this '90s Eurodance hit is too upbeat and bouncy for Thanksgiving, but consider it a "Christmas in July" kind of vibe. Something peppy to wake you up from you turkey-induced slumber this weekend.

Love you, special fren.

November 21, 2021

Re-igniting the left-right alliance; and more on regional differences caused by national ethnogenesis

I wrote another post-in-the-comments (from here and on), about the fading populist spirit from the Trump years, as shown by the greater emphasis on race and gender than class when right-wingers were reacting to the final phase of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Namely, freaking out that so many women on the jury meant it was over for him, without asking whether those women had college degrees or not. And being unaware that Kenosha is one of the prototypical counties that had been loyal Democrats for decades, before flipping to Trump twice, due to de-industrialization, and the lack of nationally-connected employers that would make the place a magnet for over-produced elite aspirants and parasites looking for their QE handouts.

There's also a shift back to portraying the enemy of Trump, Rittenhouse, and whoever else on that side, as blue-haired cat ladies who majored in gender studies and post on TikTok. This is a fake enemy that does not exist. The real enemy is a blonde doggy mommy who lives in the suburbs, posts on Twitter (like the right-wingers themselves), and majored in a field that Rush Limbaugh Boomers would've praised as a "real major" -- law, business, or STEM.

To counteract the drift back toward performative culture wars within the upper-middle class, of the Bush and Obama years, we need to re-ignite the left-right alliance against the bitterly despised elites that was the norm of online political types just a few years ago.

The only thing I can do right now in this brief post is point you toward another podcast to listen to, and group of people to interact with on Twitter. If you're reading this blog, you're probably already familiar with Aimee Terese and the ladies from Red Scare. But I don't think I've mentioned some of the others very often.

Red Star Radio (twitter here) is the purest example of the left side of the left-right alliance. Anti-capitalist lefties, but who are against the dehumanizing cultural project of the left. Opposed to the hysterical scientism from the media about COVID-19, the lockdowns, the vaccines, masking, government mandates, etc. Also did recent episodes defending basic civil liberties in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, and a new one about the questionable models behind the hysterical scientism related to climate change.

Co-hosts are Brit Alexander McKay -- member of Mancs for Marxist Masculinity -- and Canadian Leila Mechoui -- booster of Berber Babes for Bolshevism. (She hasn't explicitly said what her background is, but pretty sure it's Moroccan, or Maghrebi at any rate.) Good-natured, lighthearted, not irony-poisoned or emotivist, and not an audition for a "news comedy" show.

* * *

To add some substance to this plugging post, when I get back to the series on national dialects and ethnogenesis, the case of Britain will distinguish Northern from Southern dialects. And since we rarely get to hear Brits speaking conversationally -- usually only in songs or news media presentations -- you can listen to McKay for understanding the Northern dialects and regional cohesion vs. hostility.

Southern dialects, along the meta-ethnic frontier against the French, departed from the historical norm by lowering their vowels. This happened especially during the Great English Vowel Shift, which arose as Southerners came into intense conflict with France during the Norman Invasion and the Hundred Years War, and wanted to mark themselves as the True English, fighting on the front lines against The Other -- unlike the Northerners who were farther removed from the conflict, and whose traditional pronunciation we want to distinguish ourselves from.

This change was less imitated in the North, so that up there "luck" and "look" have more or less the same vowel (a higher vowel, whatever it is by micro-region), whereas "luck" in the South has a lower "uh" vowel like we use in America and Canada. However, Americans are a mix of Northern and Southern English, so we also use the higher, unchanged vowel as Northerners when it's written with "a". E.g., Northerners pronounce "last" as Americans & Canadians do (the trad way), whereas Southerners changed it to the lower "open wide and say ah" vowel.

The podcast is also useful to appreciate another aspect of ethnogenesis, namely that there is much tighter cohesion along the meta-ethnic frontier, and more internecine hostility farther away from it. So, the Southeast and Southwest of England feel very close to each other, despite the Southwest being more rural and the Southeast being more urbanized. They're still both Southerners -- the True English who were forged in the crucible of the conflict against the French.

Whenever McKay, who's from the Northwest, has to mention someone from the Northeast (say, Paul Joseph Watson), he reflexively gets in a dig about how they're a worthless Yorkshireman. Far away from the frontier against the French, the civil wars between Lancaster and York never fully faded away. Such hostility between neighbors did not survive along the Southern border, as they were compelled into a larger collective by the conflict with France.

To put it in American terms, the British South is like the American "West" (from the Midwest out to the Pacific coast), and their North is like our East. The standard national dialect in America is Western, whereas the least nationally normative are those along the East Coast, whether Northeastern or Southeastern. And the entire West coast is well unified, from SoCal up to Seattle, whereas the Civil War never fully faded away between the Northeast and Southeast. Even within the Northeast, Boston and New York are bitter enemies, in a way that is impossible between Seattle and San Francisco on the West coast.

That's because the meta-ethnic frontier in America has been out West, against the Indians (and later on and more briefly, the Japanese Empire).

Secession has already taken place among Northern Brits, when Ireland split off 100 years ago. (They can deny they're any sort of British, but everyone knows they're from the same family of islands and peoples.) And Scotland recently got as far as putting independence up to a popular vote. That will never happen anywhere in the South, and Celtic revival (i.e., de-Britishization of their ethnicity) has been weakest in Cornwall, as it's part of the South, compared to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the North.

The American version of this is that secession will never take place out West, whereas the East is most vulnerable to fragmentation. It reveals the cluelessness of various separatist "movements" (whites only, right-libertarians, anarcho-libs, whoever else), that they chose places in the Northwest as their spot to breakaway from the national government. In reality, it will be Florida (back East) that breaks away de jure, and recently has already begun to de facto.